Babies mistakenly switched, mothers’ take wrong babies home

reporters@samoanews.com

You read about it or hear about it and you figure — that could never happen to you: You give birth to a healthy baby girl at the hospital, name her, take her home, nurture her, introduce her to the world, and two weeks later the hospital calls you and says that you were sent home with the wrong child. 

A 17-year-old mother in American Samoa is living this nightmare right now. After giving birth to a healthy baby girl a month ago, she was called two weeks later and informed that she was given the wrong baby.

And according to the 17-year old mother’s Aunt, on Tuesday, Nov. 7, at LBJ hospital — the babies were switched back, like nothing happened, but, unfortunately, her niece is ‘going out of her mind’.

“The baby they gave her is real sick,” the Aunt said. “My niece is trying hard to cope and trying to understand what is going on.”

Right now, the 17-year old mother is at the hospital admitted last week for an infection, and the baby she was ‘given’ on Tuesday, has been admitted to the hospital with pneumonia.

How was the switch discovered?

Apparently, according to the Aunt, when one of the mothers went to WIC to register her child for assistance, she was told the baby’s name was wrong on the Birth Certificate. She then went to the hospital to find out what was going on.

That’s when LBJ apparently called the 17-year old mother, and she checked the baby’s tag — which she had not bothered to check when they brought the baby home — and it was then discovered that yes it was the wrong name.

Meetings with each mother and family members were then held separately, with LBJ hospital top officials, including legal counsel attending, to discuss the mix up and what the LBJ hospital wanted to do — to run a DNA test to make sure it was a case of ‘switched’ babies, and not just wrong name tags.

In a recording of one of the meetings, held on Oct. 25th, with the 17-year old mother and family members — obtained by Samoa News, the emotionally charged meeting, which went on for almost an hour, LBJ Hospital CEO Faumuina Taufetee Faumuina is heard telling the family that after consultation with legal counsel, a decision has been made to run a DNA test in order to verify the ‘right relationship’ between mother and baby.

While Faumuina apologizes profusely to the family about what has happened, he is unable to get the family to leave the baby at the hospital while the DNA test is being run.

He points out that he understands the bond formed between mother and child, and then gives permission for the babies to be taken to their current homes.

The baby’s grandmother, who attended the meeting, is heard disagreeing with the DNA testing, saying they have bonded with their baby.

Speaking in Samoan she says, “We have pictures of the baby when she was born. Before she was taken to the nursery. Change the names not the babies.”

 “My niece called saying that she is in the hospital and they just came and took the baby away from her after telling her the results of the DNA test.”. She was crying so hard I could not make out what else she was saying.”  The Aunt told Samoa News.

She also told Samoa News, that they had tried talking to Legal Aid for advice and were told to call the LBJ Nurses Office and no one answered.  They then tried calling the LBJ Social Services Manager and again no luck.

“We just want to understand how this can be done the way it was done. The baby has been with us for a month. We just feel so helpless and honestly don’t have a clue on how to handle this,” Samoa News was told.

A reliable source at the LBJ Nurses Office confirmed with Samoa News that there was a mix up with the two babies and that they have been switched back to their natural mothers.

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